N.J. Mall Shooting Strands Wife and Daughter of 'America's Rabbi'

Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, who was entering the mall when the shooting began, tweeted 'Please pray' while his wife and daughter hid from the shooter.

“Please pray,” tweeted Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, as law enforcement officers scoured a New Jersey mall on Monday night, looking for a gunman who had opened fire inside. Boteach's wife and daughter were in the mall at the time..

Boteach, a well-known American rabbi, author and TV host, was entering the Garden State Plaza in Paramus on Monday night with three of his children, when shoppers streamed through the doors shouting that there was a shooter in the mall. 

After running to safety with his children, Boteach called his wife, who told him she and her daughter were holed up in a storage closest in one of the stores.

“Terror here at garden state mall in NJ and I know people inside. I left with my kids and now outside. Please pray,” Boteach tweeted. He did not indicate that his wife and daughter were among those inside until they were rescued.

They were evacuated by a SWAT team about 90 minutes after the shooting began.

The gunman, identified as Richard Shoop, 20, of Teaneck, N.J., entered the mall just before 9:30 P.M. and fired his rifle at random targets, according to officials. His body was found early Tuesday morning in a storage area in the vast mall, which is located about 15 miles from New York City. State officials said he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Shoop reportedly shot in the air during the incident and told mall patrons that he did not want to hurt anyone.

In a personal essay written after the incident, Boteach said that newly-elected U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, a close friend, called as his wife was being rescued to inquire about her wellbeing. Boteach had texted the New Jersey senator to inform him of the standoff.

“Still can’t sleep. Have given up trying,” Boteach tweeted several hours after the incident.

Natasha Mozgovaya